PRINCETON, N.J. — Whether it's a cell phone ringing or your co-workers whispering next to you, there's no shortage of annoying meeting behavior. And now there's evidence to back it up.
Disorganization tops the list as the biggest frustration for meeting attendees, according to a new "Ouch Point" study by Opinion Research USA that measured the tolerance thresholds of U.S. workers at business meetings.
Of 1,037 full- or part-time workers polled, 27% ranked disorganized, rambling meetings as their top frustration, followed by 17% who said they were annoyed by peers who interrupt and try to dominate meetings.
Surprisingly, respondents considered BlackBerry use less intrusive than people falling asleep during a meeting — 9% of respondents were bothered by co-workers nodding off, compared to just 5% who said they get frustrated by others checking e-mail. Respondents also cited cell-phone interruptions (16%) and meetings without refreshments (6%) as more annoying than the much-maligned BlackBerry.
Among the other "ouch points" ranked by respondents were: meetings without bathroom breaks (8%) and people leaving the meeting early or arriving late (5%). Only 4% of respondents said they were most frustrated by meetings that start late, and those that end without distributing a written recap.
"If you're asking somebody to participate in a meeting, it has to be, from their perception, worth it to invest the time," said Jeff Resnick, president of Opinion Research USA, a Princeton, N.J.-based firm. According to Resnick, for business owners and managers, the study underscores the importance of having well-constructed meetings.
Demographics also played a role in the kind of "ouch points" that respondents considered most significant. For example, respondents from the Northeast were less bothered by disorganized meetings than those from other parts of the country. Additionally, respondents over the age of 55 considered meetings without a bathroom break a significant issue, and for respondents ages 18 to 24, serving food is a priority at meetings.